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Anne

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Everything posted by Anne

  1. You can see him receiving the award if you follow this link: http://www.dr.dk/Nyheder/Kultur/2012/04/30/130826.htm Click on the clip with "Årets danser". It is in Danish, I'm sorry! But in short he dedicates the award to his mother for getting the idea of letting him dance ballet, and then he thanks his ballet master Nikolaj Hübbe and the jury.
  2. Alban Lendorf received a "Reumert" yesterday as the best dancer of the year. He received it for his achivements as one of the main soloists in Landers "Etudes" with the RDB last autumn.The "Reumert" is one of the most prestigious Danish awards for the performing arts.
  3. These are certainly great news! It seemed such a waste of time and effort just to let the production pass through, never to come back. There is one more good thing in it: The borrowed costumes from Paris were a bit on the heavy and glittery side. That might work well in a big house like the Palais Garnier, where they have to look gorgeous from a long distance, but on the initmate stage in Copenhagen some of them tended to look a bit cheap, and furthermore they often seemed to be in the dancers' way because of too many layers of clothing. The costume department in RDB has often demonstrated that they can create costume miracles, which are both beautiful to look at and nice to wear, and I therefore hope that the extra money will be used to create costumes of their own in stead of spending them on a new costume rental from Paris. But anyhow: It is great that the production will return, no matter in what costumes!
  4. I was wrong about one thing: The ballet has actually been presented to a Danish audience once before: Neumeier brought it to Copenhagen in May 1987 with his own company the Hamburg Ballet. They performed in the Royal Theatre.
  5. I have found out (by asking the Royal theatre itself) that the music used for the trailer is actually by the russian composer Alexander Scriabin and not by Chopin at all (I suppose it is some kind of mistake.) It is taken from Scriabin's Piano Concerto in F sharp minor opus 20, the first movement close after the beginning. Beautiful and very romantic music from 1896 - maybe an idea for a new ballet!
  6. I really hope this is not going to be true! I don't quite understand why it is so expensive to keep the ballet in the repertoire, one should think the worst was over when once the premiere was over? Eva Kistrup mentions in her blog that the sets and costumes are borrowed from Paris, but the printed programme says nothing about that. Maybe that is what makes it too expensive to take up again in later seasons?
  7. A funny thing is, that the music used for this trailer, never appears in the ballet. I don't know what is is, but I'm sure it is not Chopin. Does anyone know the piece?
  8. John Neumeier has been in Copenhagen to stage his ”Lady of the Camellias" - or "Kameliadamen" as it is called in Danish - with the RDB. It is the first time the ballet has been presented to a Danish audience. It was premiered last Friday with Susanne Grinder and Alban Lendorf as Marguerite and Armand. I saw the second performance, on Saturday night, with Gudrun Bojesen and Ulrik Birkkjær as the protagonists. It was a great pleasure to see the RDB unfold all its best qualities: spirit, stage presence and care for detail down to the smallest part. And I’m very grateful they have chosen the old theatre instead of the new Opera, because the qualities mentioned above really come to their right in this old and intimate frame, and it was rewarded by an appreciating and concentrated silence in the audience – and a warm applause at the end. And the company really deserved the applause! I don’t mind that some of the ensembles weren’t as synchronous as they were meant to be, that’ll probably settle when they get over the nerves and the rush of the first nights. Important was that everybody danced with a verve and a commitment which made the stage bubble with life. As Manon and De Grieux, the couple mirroring Marguerite and Armand, I saw Lena-Maria Gruber and Gregory Dean, who were both terrific. Gruber is a small dancer with a strong technique and an energetic approach, and if she continues stretching her lines, I think she can develop into the more serious repertoire, like Heidi Ryom, another petite dancer, did half way through her carrier after a decade with soubrette roles. Gruber certainly showed character as Manon. Gregory Dean on the other hand is born with beautiful long limbs, and for him the challenge is the exact opposite of Gruber’s: to tighten his movements and become less “willowy”. As Des Grieux he demonstrated both precision and some wonderfully controlled pirouettes. But why Neumeier has made Des Grieux such a simpering, ridiculous figure? It doesn’t make sense to me. I wondered, by the way, if Neumeier has been inspired by MacMillan’s Manon-ballet, the way Manon’s three admirers/lovers constantly carried her around, her feet barely touching the ground. Many other dancers deserve praise, among them Hilary Guswiler as the treacherous courtesan Olympia. She has the sweetest face you can imagine, all dolls eyes, which she darts in all directions to great effect. You can’t take your eyes from her! She is still just a corps dancer, but I think she will soon advance, already being a strong technician and blessed with a natural talent for acting. And I’d like to mention one more: the apprentice Astrid Elbo, who played the role of Marguerite’s servant Nanina. The part is more acting than dancing, but this she did it with much charm, and again, like Hilary Guswiler, she has a very sweet face with big and telling eyes. She is rather tall but carries herself with so much grace that I hope her hight will not be of any hindrance to her. And last but not least it was good to see Marcin Kupinsky cast against his type as the ardent and playful playboy Gaston Rieux. He was actually quite amusing! His lighthearted partner, the courtesan Prudence, was danced by the equally lively Jodie Thomas. Gudrun Bojesen and Ulrik Birkkjær had the all dominating parts of Marguerite and Armand, and Jean-Lucien Massot had the smaller but very important part of Armand’s father. Bojesen has the indefinable quality of the star dancer. Her acting is natural but not naturalistic, it is as if there is always something more than what you see, and that is probably the quality that makes her such a fantastic Sylphide, Odette or Hilda, and maybe also the reason why she was never cast as Juliet. To her interpretation of Marguerite it brings some grandeur to the role and makes it clear from the beginning that she is different from her “colleagues”, the other courtesans, even when she presents herself as frivolous as they do. Birkkjær is a slightly built dancer, but he certainly shows to have a lot of strength. Neumeier has given him a tough job carrying the heroine around the stage in all possible combinations and positions, some looking great and others looking more like a scuffle. (Her voluminous skirts were sometimes very much in the way, blurring both his sight and our sight of things.) Birkkjær has very much developed since I saw him last, especially when it comes to acting, it looks like he has benefited a lot from the instructions of Neumeier. And I must admit that I was impressed by his technical abilities. But I think he would have been better off with another partner than Bojesen. He looks too small beside her, and not only physically. He cannot match her and he appears more insignificant than he need to. In the pas de deux between Bojesen and Massot as Armand’s father in the 2nd act things suddenly balanced, and you could see what happens, when two mature artists play up against each other. Alban Lendorf as Armand would probably have been a better match, and I could imagine the fragility of Susanne Grinder would have suited Birkkjær well. I have given much thought to, why I wasn’t so deeply moved by this ballet as I thought I would have been. I mean the story is the saddest thinkable, and the dancers gave all they had in them, not holding anything back. But nevertheless it stayed a very intellectual experience. Neumeier has created some of his most inspired choreography for this ballet, and one cannot help admiring all the complicated lifts, intertwined figures and intricate steps and jumps he can come up with, and the movements always convey a meaning, either emotional or symbolic, but at times it kind of takes over, killing the flow and the spontaneity of the dance.I liked very much, though, the passage in the happy pas de deux of the second act, where Armand carries Marguerite lying horizontally on his shoulders and she kind of rests her head in one of his hands with a happy smile on her face. I don’t know how he got his hand free for that and how she kept her body in place, but it looked lovely! The ballet is full of such fantastic inventions, I just wish Neumeier would sometimes economize a little bit. It becomes tiresome in the length. His choreographic language is very similar to the one he uses in Romeo and Juliet from 1974: a mixture of naturalistic body language and highly stylized movements. Like he invented the pointed arms and hands to characterize the stiff formality of the Capulets he has invented a special way of walking for the courtesans here: a swaggering walk on pointe with their feet sweeping backwards at each step like the sophisticated gait of a thoroughbred horse. Like the thoroughbreds they are elegant and expensive creatures, and KEPT. In Romeo and Juliet his choreography had a freshness which is lost in the Lady of the Camellias, which was created 4 years later. It is still very expressive and has a great impact on the viewer, but one cannot help being constantly aware of the construction underneath and the brainwork behind it. One shall not underestimate the role the music plays in these matters. In Romeo and Juliet Neumeier had the greatest ever storytelling score as a vehicle for his own storytelling. Not that it is an easy task to match that score – I have seen many boring versions of Romeo and Juliet, no matter how well they played in the pit – but still, for a great choreographer, to which category I count Neumeier, such a score is not only a challenge but a great gift. For his Lady of the Camellias Neumeier has chosen Chopin’s music (brilliantly played from the pit by Roberto Cominati). First act is build upon the 2nd Piano concerto, which we get in its entire length, for the second act he uses a mix of preludes, waltzes and other pieces for piano alone, and in the 3rd act he turns back to pieces for piano and orchestra. Neumeier is very faithful to the music and doesn’t mess around with it or cut it to pieces like other choreographers have done to make preexistent music fit their purposes. That is a very honourable thing but strangely enough it also constitutes one of the major weaknesses of the ballet. The music has a life and structure of its own which is not necessarily the same as the drama’s. That means that the drama has to follow the music and not the other way around. Because Neumeier is extremely clever and very sensitive to music he is able to make the music fit the drama like a glove in many scenes, but too often it is like the music and the drama have two different stories to tell, or to put it more precisely: the music doesn’t tell a story at all, it is simply music in its own right, conveying emotions and moods but no action. It is as if it refuses to subordinate to the drama and keeps poking on its own independence. Strangely enough Chopin’s music which is normally considered very emotional and romantic gets an almost neutral quality here, which adds to the intellectual distance mentioned above. Maybe I prefer the story ballets of Cranko and MacMillan, where the choreographer has allowed the music to be tampered with and who have chosen music of a lesser quality from the beginning and then let some clever orchestrator arrange the music to fit the story. It might sometimes border on bad taste, but it works!
  9. I'm afraid I have no idea, really. I think it must be up to the dancer himself/herself, whether he or she feels fit for it or not. They get a lifelong pension from the theatre, when they retire, but I don't know if there are any restrictions attached to it. Maybe some body else knows?
  10. Yes, he will indeed be missed! It is like a strong colour is going missing in the company. I "discovered" him relatively late myself, but have been a great admirer ever since. (It was the same for me with Caroline Cavallo, whom I also learned to dearly appreciate at a rather late stage of her career). Maybe I have just missed out on him by bad luck (living far away from Copenhagen it has always been difficult to have any influence on whom I was going to see perform, as the theatre announces the cast so very late ) OR he is one of the so called "late bloomers", who just seem to unfold all their qualities in their mid-thirties like in an explosion of strength, technical perfection, stage presence and emotional depth. It is a fantastic programme for his farewell performance, and typical for his physical strength. Not many would survive a programme like that!
  11. The crisis in the RDB has blown up again with full force. Dancers and actors have written an open letter to the board, in which they say that they have lost confidence in the management. They have asked for a meeting with the board, which they had this morning, though not with the board alone, as they had asked for, but with the management present as well. The critic is especially directed against the ballet master Nikolaj Hübbe and the theatre director Erik Jacobsen, among many other things because of their handling of the lay offs earlier in January. A google translated page from the Danish paper "Politiken" gives some more details, (though one has to live with the many funny translations): Politiken article
  12. Thank you for posting this! It was deeply moving to watch it. This docu is done with great respect for the implicated youths, which is not always the case. Many makers of documentaries seem to be heavily influenced by the style of the reality shows, where no feeling are too personal or too painful for a close-up. I think it was very delicately done in this case, very authentic and still very moving.
  13. I stumbled over this video on youtube and wonder if anyone know, where and when it is from? To me it looks like early nineties. Both sound and picture are of a terrible quality, but there exists so very few recordings with Hübbe, not to speak of Ryom, that it is interesting to see even a scrubby little video like this.
  14. Maybe I'm now the one who is reading more between the lines than is really there. I understand from your explanation, that the expression "to clean house" can have a more neutral meaning and that it doesn't necessarily mean that a director misuses the opportunity to get rid of his or her enemies or critics. Because of the managment crisis last year the latter has been a fear vented in the papers before the layoffs were a reality. I don't know if objective criterias are less damaging. Maybe it hurts less to be sacked because you are, say, the one with less seniority, and not because you are the less usefull, and for the A.D. it is much easier to hide behind such criterias, because he or she doesn't risk accusations of favourism. But for the company it can never be the best criterion, as you might end up sacking some of the best dancers that way. What is really the issue, and maybe has been it all the time to you, checkwriter, (I apollogy that I might have got your meaning wrong) is, whether Hübbe has had any choice: Could he have avoided the lay-offs by saving money elsewhere in the organisation? And how free has his hands been in this process? One must remember that there is a theatre director above both him and the other A.D.s of the house, who has the final say.
  15. Before this interpretation of what is going on in the RDB gets the character of a fact, I have to say, that unless checkwriter has some insider knowledge, which makes it possible to read between the lines, there has been nothing in the press, neither in the article checkwriter refers to in Politiken, that directly says so. What the article said was: "According to several dancers Politiken has spoken with, it is now clear that the firings are determined by the ballet master Nikolaj Hübbe's personal taste and preferences." And this is what an A.D. do all the times. He has the final say in everything, in casting, in who is accepted into the company etc. One may not like that fact, but it is not the same as to say, that he has misused this power to "clean house". That is a very strong accusation which one shouldn't bring forward unless one is very sure.
  16. Eva Kistrup has made a comment already on her blog (this time in English!): Read article
  17. I think it is important to be precise in these matters, and google translations are not always reliable. What the Politiken actually writes is this (my translation): "According to several dancers Politiken has spoken with, it is now clear that the firings are determined by the ballet master Nikolaj Hübbe's personal taste and preferences. "It's 100 percent the ballet master's criteria that have determined it. That's how the ballet world is - it's all a lot about personal taste. It is actually very natural, "says principal dancer Ulrik Birkkjær."
  18. The names of the 11 dancers, who are going to leave the RDB have now been announced in Politiken: Article (I couldn't find out making it appear in English translation, but maybe you can help yourself to a google-translation) I can't help feeling very sad today, and I feel very sorry for the seven dancers, who are leaving the company against their own free will, some of whom I remember vividly from many fine performances during the years.
  19. In the Danish national paper "Morgenavisen Jyllandsposten" it is today confirmed that 7 dancers are being sacked, and 4 dancers will retire. No names are mentioned, only the announcement that among the fired are 1 principal dancer, 1 soloist and 5 corps dancers. Among the retiring are 1 principal, 1 character dancer and 2 corps dancers. There are no comments from either Nikolaj Hübbe or theater director Erik Jacobsen so far.
  20. I stumbled over this old post when I googled "Nikolaj Hübbe+Heidi Ryom+Argentina" to find out when this video found on youtube was made: Does anyone know, if it is from the same gala mentioned above, and, in case, when that was? To me it looks like early nineties. Both sound and picture are of a terrible quality, but there exists so very few recordings with Hübbe, not to speak of Ryom, that it is interesting to see even a scrubby little video like this. Silvy is right, that Ryom looks a very modern dancer, and that she possesses an incredible speed and precision in her dancing. In that aspect she reminds me of many British ballerinas (tiny, speedy and strong). She developed a lot during her career, and in the end she covered the full scale, both the modern, the comic (she could be extremely witty, making clever use of her big eyes and strange features) and the fullblown romantic repertoire (no-one was a more heart-wrenching Odette or Juliet or Tatiana than she was).
  21. Maybe you are right in these assumptions, I don't know - it is very difficult to judge from outside what happens in a hermetically closed and bureaucratic institution like the Royal Theatre. I'm not sure, though, that the silence of Hübbe has to be an indication of lack of will to fight for his company, that would be hard to imagine with his fiery temperament and normally very non-compromising nature. I think all 4 directors (of respectively ballet, opera, drama and orchestra) are subject to strong rules of not going public with anything and of staying loyal to the government of the theatre, including the political government, no matter what happens. That is part of having a leading postion in the state or in a municipality (I suppose it is like that in most countries, but I don't know...). The political pressure on the theatre administration seems to be rather heavy, though. Lately the Minister of Culture has announced that none of the members of the board will get their membership renewed this year, which means that for the time being the theatre is without a board, and therefore all decisions now lie with the theatre management. Even in good times it must be a problem to have this fundamental break of continuity in the work of the board, and in a situation like this it must even more difficult.
  22. The number of jobs to be cut down has now been reduced from 100 to 50 according to a press release from the theatre January 5: Press-release (in Danish, I'm sorry - maybe google translate can help)
  23. I wish you a great trip to Paris (it is such a gorgeous city, even in January!), and I hope you will tell us what you think of the ballet.
  24. Odinthor, I didn't read your post until today, so my reply comes a bit late, and maybe you will not see it at all, but anyway: I wasn't particularily fond of this production either and I do understand your nagging doubt whether you have seen the real thing. But if it is any consolation to you, I can tell you that also the traditional 1st act of Napoli can be a frustrating experience for a first-time audience: it has always been impossible to catch all that happens on the stage. You simply has to see the ballet many times to get the full picture! (and still you will always miss something, because the dancers improvise and change things from performance to performance).There is not more going on in this production than in the traditional one. Actually Hübbe has been very true to the over all pattern of the original, often placing the characters in the same part of the stage, just with new clothes on and maybe doing other things.
  25. The RDB is visiting the Paris Opera in January, bringing Nikolaj Hübbe's production of "Napoli" to the stage of the Palais Garniers. They perform every day from January 6 till January 10. Link to Opera National de Paris here
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